This is a follow-on review to the Tamil Play staged in San Francisco Bay Area depicting the life of Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi. You can read the first part here: Maharishi Play. I have 4 quick callouts first and then want to share about the invisible Bhagavad Gita Slideshow.

Perseverance and Grit

The first thing I want to call out here is the extended time period (roughly 1 year) the crew had practised for the show and with just a few days to go, they had to postpone because of Covid. After things got back to a bit of normalcy, they resumed their practise sessions, again for close to a year and staged it this past weekend (March 31st).


One of the things that stood out was the number of volunteers that were recognized at the end of the show. This is not even counting the families of the artists / volunteers. What would be appropriate here is John Milton’s final line of his Sonnet “On his blindness”.

They also serve who only stand and wait

Big kudos to all of them.

Paattis, Periyavars and Podiyavars

Everyone did a great job regardless of their time on stage or the importance of their role. Special call outs to all the Pattis (as we all would call them with respect) - they all performed with much love, affection and devotion for Maharishi. Another call out to all the small kids who did an adorable part.

Can you hear me now?

It is one of those things that if it works well that not many notice but one mistake and everyone remembers. The mics and sound were well arranged - a hard task given everyone had a mic, they had to be as least intrusive as possible. The audio in the auditorium was good. And this was even more critical since this being a dialogue-heavy play and it had to be synchronized with the background music and slideshow.

Bhagavan’s Life and Bhagavad Gita

I wanted to capture the magic I felt during the play. As in Gandhi’s words too My life is my message so too was Maharishi’s life. But even more so, his life was as rare a life, the ideal life, as described in the Bhagavad Gita. And to get a glimpse of that (for those who were around) and for us, those who get to hear from such first-hand persons and be so close in time and so close in place to where this happened is what makes it even more relatable and special to many of us and makes the play and story stand out above all. As one poet observed that it is not that all famous poets wrote Ramayana but it is because they wrote Ramayana that they became famous. The greatness of the play is due to the greatness of Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi.

There was an invisble slideshow that was running all along during the play - that of the verses of the Bhagavad Gita. One could see a verse or few in almost every scene or a segment of a story. One could most definitely see it in all of Maharishi’s teachings.

I recall here a few scenes and episodes and the verses that stood out to me. I will use this convention to refer to the shlokas in the format X.YX where X is the Chapter number and YZ is the shloka number.

1. The young lad who renounces everything

Prompted by a simple question by his brother (roughly paraphrasing) “What are you even doing here?”, a young Ramana (all of 16 years of age) leaves everything and goes to Arunachala. This is the pinnacle of the teaching of BG 18.66.

सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज ।
अहं त्वा सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्ष्ययिष्यामि मा शुचः ॥ १८-६६॥

sarvadharmAnparityajya mAmekaM sharaNaM vraja .
ahaM tvA sarvapApebhyo mokShyayiShyAmi mA shuchaH . 18-66.

Renounce all Dharma (here to be taken as all forms of Karma : rights and duties) and take refuge unto me.
I shall free you from all sins. Do not worry/lament.

One important thing to note is that in the case of Arjuna (and for us) it is a prescription but in the case Bhagavan he was already self-realized via his experience in Madurai where he pretended to be dead and followed through the consequential thoughts and it was all over in about 30 minutes.

2. Intense meditator not caring for his own body

When Seshadri Swamigal and two other devotees find him meditating in Pathala Lingam, he was without care for his body.

मात्रास्पर्शास्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्णसुखदुःखदाः ।
आगमापायिनोऽनित्यास्तांस्तितिक्षस्व भारत ॥ २-१४॥

mAtrAsparshAstu kaunteya shItoShNasukhaduHkhadAH .
AgamApAyino.anityAstA.nstitikShasva bhArata .. 2\-14..

मात्रास्पर्शः  = sensory perception
तु  = only
कौन्तेय  = O son of Kunti
शीत  = coolness
उष्ण  = heat
सुख  = happiness
दुःख  = and pain
दाः  = giving
आगम  = appearing
अपायिनः  = disappearing
अनित्यः  = nonpermanent
तान्  = all of them
तितिक्षस्व  = just try to tolerate
भारत  = O descendant of the Bharata dynasty.

But here again, this is more a prescription so the more appropriate one would be a different and stronger version of this from Chapter 5. The wise do not even indulge in anything that is temporary (sensual).

ये हि संस्पर्शजा भोगा दुःखयोनय एव ते ।
आद्यन्तवन्तः कौन्तेय न तेषु रमते बुधः ॥ ५-२२॥

ye hi sa.nsparshajA bhogA duHkhayonaya eva te .
AdyantavantaH kaunteya na teShu ramate budhaH .. 5\-22..

ये  = those
हि  = certainly
संस्पर्शजाः  = by contact with the material senses
भोगाः  = enjoyments
दुःख  = distress
योनयः  = sources of
एव  = certainly
ते  = they are
आदि  = beginning
अन्त  = end
वन्तः  = subject to
कौन्तेय  = O son of Kunti
न  = never
तेषु  = in those
रमते  = takes delight
बुधः  = the intelligent person.

Then we have an exhibition of 5.20 where the young Ramana never wavers no matter what is offered. Many different types of arguments and compromises are placed but all to no avail.

न प्रहृष्येत्प्रियं प्राप्य नोद्विजेत्प्राप्य चाप्रियम् ।
स्थिरबुद्धिरसम्मूढो ब्रह्मविद् ब्रह्मणि स्थितः ॥ ५-२०॥

na prahR^iShyetpriyaM prApya nodvijetprApya chApriyam.h .
sthirabuddhirasammUDho brahmavid.h brahmaNi sthitaH .. 5\-20..

न  = never
प्रहृष्येत्  = rejoices
प्रियं  = the pleasant
प्राप्य  = achieving
न  = does not
उद्विजेत्  = become agitated
प्राप्य  = obtaining
च  = also
अप्रियं  = the unpleasant
स्थिरबुद्धिः  = self-intelligent
असम्मूढाः  = unbewildered
ब्रह्मवित्  = one who knows the Supreme perfectly
ब्रह्मणि  = in the transcendence
स्थितः  = situated.

And then we have 6.7 and 6.8 describing how such a person who has conquered their mind that heat, cold, honor, dishonor, joy, sorrow do not make a difference. कूटस्थः also means an Anvil - that which does not change even the objects placed on it are hit upon and squashed and modified.

जितात्मनः प्रशान्तस्य परमात्मा समाहितः ।
शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु तथा मानापमानयोः ॥ ६-७॥

jitAtmanaH prashAntasya paramAtmA samAhitaH .
shItoShNasukhaduHkheShu tathA mAnApamAnayoH .. 6\-7..

जितात्मनः  = of one who has conquered his mind
प्रशान्तस्य  = who has attained tranquillity by such control over the mind
परमात्मा  = the Supersoul
समाहितः  = approached completely
शीत  = in cold
उष्ण  = heat
सुख  = happiness
दुःखेषु  = and distress
तथा  = also
मान  = in honor
अपमानयोः  = and dishonor.
ज्ञानविज्ञानतृप्तात्मा कूटस्थो विजितेन्द्रियः ।
युक्त इत्युच्यते योगी समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः ॥ ६-८॥

ज्ञानविज्ञानतृप्तात्मा कूटस्थो विजितेन्द्रियः ।
युक्त इत्युच्यते योगी समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः ॥ ६-८॥

GYAnaviGYAnatR^iptAtmA kUTastho vijitendriyaH .
yukta ityuchyate yogI samaloShTAshmakA~nchanaH .. 6\-8..

ज्ञान  = by acquired knowledge
विज्ञान  = and realized knowledge
तृप्त  = satisfied
आत्मा  = a living entity
कूटस्थः  = spiritually situated
विजितेन्द्रियः  = sensually controlled
युक्तः  = competent for self-realization
इति  = thus
उच्यते  = is said
योगी  = a mystic
सम  = equipoised
लोष्ट्र  = pebbles
अश्म  = stone
काञ्चनः  = gold.

3. Saints living amongst us

Such a Gnani doesn’t have a need to merge back with society. But as in 3.20, they do it for the good of the society and to help people. The Gita quotes the example of Maharaja Janaka. Lokasamgraha is the key word here.

कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धिमास्थिता जनकादयः ।
लोकसंग्रहमेवापि सम्पश्यन्कर्तुमर्हसि ॥ ३-२०॥

karmaNaiva hi sa.nsiddhimAsthitA janakAdayaH .
lokasa.ngrahamevApi sampashyankartumarhasi .. 3\-20..

कर्मणा  = by work
एव  = even
हि  = certainly
संसिद्धिं  = in perfection
आस्थिताः  = situated
जनकादयाः  = Janaka and other kings
लोकसंग्रहं  = the people in general
एवापि  = also
सम्पश्यन्  = considering
कर्तुं  = to act
अर्हसि  = you deserve.

And even when they do it, nothing affects them just as Lotus leaves while growing in water does not get affected by the water drops.

ब्रह्मण्याधाय कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा करोति यः ।
लिप्यते न स पापेन पद्मपत्रमिवाम्भसा ॥ ५-१०॥

brahmaNyAdhAya karmANi sa~Nga.n tyaktvA karoti yaH .
lipyate na sa pApena padmapatramivAmbhasA .. 5\-10..

It is indeed difficult to recognize the realized souls. vAsudevaH here is a keyword here meaning that which resides in everything. (the other/conventional way to interpret it is vAsudevA the Lord Krishna).

बहूनां जन्मनामन्ते ज्ञानवान्मां प्रपद्यते ।
वासुदेवः सर्वमिति स महात्मा सुदुर्लभः ॥ ७-१९॥

bahUnA.n janmanAmante GYAnavAnmAM prapadyate .
vAsudevaH sarvamiti sa mahAtmA sudurlabhaH .. 7\-19..

बहूनां  = many
जन्मनां  = repeated births and deaths
अन्ते  = after
ज्ञानवान्  = one who is in full knowledge
मां  = unto Me
प्रपद्यते  = surrenders
वासुदेवः  = the Personality of Godhead, KRiShNa
सर्वं  = everything
इति  = thus
सः  = that
महात्मा  = great soul
सुदुर्लभः  = very rare to see.

It is that (Brahman/Atman) that which makes everything shine. But is misunderstood.

नाहं प्रकाशः सर्वस्य योगमायासमावृतः ।
मूढोऽयं नाभिजानाति लोको मामजमव्ययम् ॥ ७-२५॥

nAhaM prakAshaH sarvasya yogamAyAsamAvR^itaH .
mUDho.ayaM nAbhijAnAti loko mAmajamavyayam.h .. 7\-25..

न  = nor
अहं  = I
प्रकाशः  = manifest
सर्वस्य  = to everyone
योगमाया  = by internal potency
समावृतः  = covered
मूढः  = foolish
अयं  = these
न  = not
अभिजानाति  = can understand
लोकः  = persons
मां  = Me
अजं  = unborn
अव्ययं  = inexhaustible.

Just because we see some great souls walk amongst us, we take this for granted. Lord Krishna once again in Chapter 9 rebukes those who do not know the truth or just consider his body form as the truth.

अवजानन्ति मां मूढा मानुषीं तनुमाश्रितम् ।
परं भावमजानन्तो मम भूतमहेश्वरम् ॥ ९-११॥

avajAnanti mAM mUDhA mAnuShI.n tanumAshritam.h .
paraM bhAvamajAnanto mama bhUtamaheshvaram.h .. 9\-11..

अवजानन्ति  = deride
मां  = Me
मूढाः  = foolish men
मानुषीं  = in a human form
तनुं  = a body
आश्रितं  = assuming
परं  = transcendental
भावं  = nature
अजानन्तः  = not knowing
मम  = My
भूत  = of everything that be
महेश्वरं  = the supreme proprietor.

4. The Peacock and Bhagavan’s affection towards Animals

This was a nice touch in the play. Significant last scene depicting Bhagavan’s final hours, he says, “Give some food to the bird”.

6.29 is a significant verse in the Bhagavad Gita that says a realized person is who can see their own self in every living being and every living being in themselves.

सर्व-भूतस्थम् आत्मानम् सर्व-भूतानि च आत्मनि ।
ईक्षते योग-युक्त-आत्मा सर्वत्र सम-दर्शनः ॥ ६-२९॥

sarvabhUtasthamAtmAnaM sarvabhUtAni chAtmani .
IkShate yogayuktAtmA sarvatra samadarshanaH .. 6\-29..

सर्वभूतस्थं  = situated in all beings
आत्मानं  = the Supersoul
सर्व  = all
भूतानी  = entities
च  = also
आत्मनि  = in the self
ईक्षते  = does see
योगयुक्तात्मा  = one who is dovetailed in KRiShNa consciousness
सर्वत्र  = everywhere
समदर्शनः  = seeing equally.

Taking it up a notch, in 6.30 the proclamation goes the realized person is one who sees God in everything and everything in God. (or suitably replace Brahman instead of God).

यो मां पश्यति सर्वत्र सर्वं च मयि पश्यति ।
तस्याहं न प्रणश्यामि स च मे न प्रणश्यति ॥ ६-३०॥

yo mAM pashyati sarvatra sarva.n cha mayi pashyati .
tasyAhaM na praNashyAmi sa cha me na praNashyati .. 6\-30..

यः  = whoever
मां  = Me
पश्यति  = sees
सर्वत्र  = everywhere
सर्वं  = everything
च  = and
मयि  = in Me
पश्यति  = sees
तस्य  = for him
अहं  = I
न  = not
प्रणश्यामि  = am lost
सः  = he
च  = also
मे  = to Me
न  = nor
प्रणश्यति  = is lost.

Culminating in 6.31 now equating every thing as that ONE thing.

Here we have a nice transitive property of I in All living beings, then God in Every living being leading to I / God / All living beings = SAME which is the self-proclaiming mahavakyam “Aham Brahma Asmi” (I am Brahman) or as the teacher would say “Tat Tvam Asi” (That Thou Art). Prof. VK in his book Thus Spake Krishna calls 6.29 the Tvam, 6.30 the Tat and 6.31 the Asi to form the majestic mahavakyam.

सर्वभूतस्थितं यो मां भजत्येकत्वमास्थितः ।
सर्वथा वर्तमानोऽपि स योगी मयि वर्तते ॥ ६-३१॥

sarvabhUtasthitaM yo mAM bhajatyekatvamAsthitaH .
sarvathA vartamAno.api sa yogI mayi vartate .. 6\-31..

सर्वभूतस्थितं  = situated in everyone's heart
यः  = he who
मां  = Me
भजति  = serves in devotional service
एकत्वं  = in oneness
आस्थितः  = situated
सर्वथा  = in all respects
वर्तमानः  = being situated
अपि  = in spite of
सः  = he
योगी  = the transcendentalist
मयि  = in Me
वर्तते  = remains.

5. Prayers & Shiva Rathri

There is the scene of a Patti planning to do an elaborate archana (offering) of 1000+ leaves. Bhagavan makes two significant points - (1) that it is the true thought / bhakthi that counts and (2) that simplest offering is the best.

9.26 is a shloka where Lord Krishna says that if a person with true devotion offers just a single leaf or a flower or a fruit or water, that alone is enough.

पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति ।
तदहं भक्त्युपहृतमश्नामि प्रयतात्मनः ॥ ९-२६॥

patraM puShpaM phalaM toyaM yo me bhaktyA prayachChati .
tadahaM bhaktyupahR^itamashnAmi prayatAtmanaH .. 9\-26..

पत्रं  = a leaf
पुष्पं  = a flower
फलं  = a fruit
तोयं  = water
यः  = whoever
मे  = unto Me
भक्त्या  = with devotion
प्रयच्छति  = offers
तत्  = that
अहं  = I
भक्त्युपहृतं  = offered in devotion
अश्नामि  = accept
प्रयतात्मनः  = from one in pure consciousness.

9.27 offers a practical and beautiful way to convert every single action that we do on a daily basis as an offering to God. This reminds us of the scenes where there are few devotees who do absolutely everything only for the sake of the Maharishi. Such a touching scene.

यत्करोषि यदश्नासि यज्जुहोषि ददासि यत् ।
यत्तपस्यसि कौन्तेय तत्कुरुष्व मदर्पणम् ॥ ९-२७॥

yatkaroShi yadashnAsi yajjuhoShi dadAsi yat.h .
yattapasyasi kaunteya tatkuruShva madarpaNam.h .. 9\-27..

यत्  = whatever
करोऽसि  = you do
यत्  = whatever
अश्नासि  = you eat
यत्  = whatever
जुहोऽसि  = you offer
ददासि  = you give away
यत्  = whatever
यत्  = whatever
तपस्यसि  = austerities you perform
कौन्तेय  = O son of Kunti
तत्  = that
कुरुष्व  = do
मत्  = unto Me
अर्पणं  = as an offering.

Beyond the simplistic words of eat, offer, pray all in a prayer connotation, this verse includes every single thing that you do in a day since all the activities (thoughts, words, actions) can be mapped to one of these five.

6. Death of his Mother

This is a moving scene which depicts the highest truth of Advaita Vedanta - that the Atma does not have a death. It is just the body / mind complex that dies and Atma is not the Body or Mind. It is possibly easy to misinterpret or misunderstand this.

This forms the crux of the Gnana Yoga teaching of Chapter 2 Sankhya Yoga (2.11 - 2.25).

Lord Krishna offers the teaching with different examples.

Just like the same person goes through a change in body from childhood to youth to middle age to old age, birth and death are similar changes that just happen. The wise do not grieve about this.

देहिनोऽस्मिन्यथा देहे कौमारं यौवनं जरा ।
तथा देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तत्र न मुह्यति ॥ २-१३॥

dehino.asminyathA dehe kaumAra.n yauvana.n jarA .
tathA dehAntaraprAptirdhIrastatra na muhyati .. 2\-13..

देहीनः  = of the embodied
अस्मिन्  = in this
यथा  = as
देहे  = in the body
कौमारं  = boyhood
यौवनं  = youth
जरा  = old age
तथा  = similarly
देहान्तर  = of transference of the body
प्राप्तिः  = achievement
धीरः  = the sober
तत्र  = thereupon
न  = never
मुह्यति  = is deluded.

The existent (Atman) one never goes away. Similarly that which is not permanent, by definition will wither away. The Wise know this truth.

नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सतः ।
उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभिः ॥ २-१६॥

nAsato vidyate bhAvo nAbhAvo vidyate sataH .
ubhayorapi dR^iShTo.antastvanayostattvadarshibhiH .. 2\-16..

न  = never
असतः  = of the nonexistent
विद्यते  = there is
भावः  = endurance
न  = never
अभावः  = changing quality
विद्यते  = there is
सतः  = of the eternal
उभयोः  = of the two
अपि  = verily
दृष्टः  = observed
अन्तः  = conclusion
तु  = indeed
अनयोः  = of them
तत्त्व  = of the truth
दर्शिभिः  = by the seers.

But the Atman is imperishable. It is eternal. The body though is temporary and hence bound to wither away and there is no point worrying about a fact.

अविनाशि तु तद्विद्धि येन सर्वमिदं ततम् ।
विनाशमव्ययस्यास्य न कश्चित्कर्तुमर्हति ॥ २-१७॥

avinAshi tu tadviddhi yena sarvamida.n tatam.h .
vinAshamavyayasyAsya na kashchitkartumarhati .. 2\-17..

अविनाशि  = imperishable
तु  = but
तत्  = that
विद्धि  = know it
येन  = by whom
सर्वं  = all of the body
इदं  = this
ततं  = pervaded
विनाशं  = destruction
अव्ययस्य  = of the imperishable
अस्य  = of it
न कश्चित्  = no one
कर्तुं  = to do
अर्हति  = is able.

Realize that Atman is eternal but the body is perishable. Therefore go fight!

Which if not fully understood or read in context of everything else would seem like a paradox that Lord Krishna talked about immortal Atman and perishable body and this as the highest truth and then somehow logically connecting it to “therefore go fight”. If you are interested (and have not already read this), Please do learn from a good teacher’s commentary on these verses (chapter 2 especially) and do not resort to a simple translation (it is most deceiving).

अन्तवन्त इमे देहा नित्यस्योक्ताः शरीरिणः ।
अनाशिनोऽप्रमेयस्य तस्माद्युध्यस्व भारत ॥ २-१८॥

antavanta ime dehA nityasyoktAH sharIriNaH .
anAshino.aprameyasya tasmAdyudhyasva bhArata .. 2\-18..

अन्तवन्तः  = perishable
इमे  = all these
देहाः  = material bodies
नित्यस्य  = eternal in existence
उक्ताः  = are said
शरीरिणः  = of the embodied soul
अनाशिनः  = never to be destroyed
अप्रमेयस्य  = immeasurable
तस्मात्  = therefore
युध्यस्व  = fight
भारत  = O descendant of Bharata.

The core message yet again that there is no birth or death or change or modification for the Atman.

न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन्
        नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः ।
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो
        न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे ॥ २-२०॥

na jAyate mriyate vA kadAchin.h
        nAyaM bhUtvA bhavitA vA na bhUyaH .
ajo nityaH shAshvato.ayaM purANo
        na hanyate hanyamAne sharIre .. 2\-20..

न  = never
जायते  = takes birth
म्रियते  = dies
वा  = either
कदाचित्  = at any time (past, present or future)
न  = never
अयं  = this
भूत्वा  = having come into being
भविता  = will come to be
वा  = or
न  = not
भूयः  = or is again coming to be
अजः  = unborn
नित्यः  = eternal
शाश्वतः  = permanent
अयं  = this
पुराणः  = the oldest
न  = never
हन्यते  = is killed
हन्यमाने  = being killed
शरीरे  = the body.

Just as a person changes old clothes to new clothes, likewise the bodies change but not the Atman.

वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय
        नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि ।
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा-
        न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही ॥ २-२२॥

vAsA.nsi jIrNAni yathA vihAya
        navAni gR^ihNAti naro.aparANi .
tathA sharIrANi vihAya jIrNA\-
        nyanyAni sa.nyAti navAni dehI .. 2\-22..

वासांसि  = garments
जीर्णानि  = old and worn out
यथा  = just as
विहाय  = giving up
नवानि  = new garments
गृह्णाति  = does accept
नरः  = a man
अपराणि  = others
तथा  = in the same way
शरीराणि  = bodies
विहाय  = giving up
जीर्णानि  = old and useless
अन्यानि  = different
संयाति  = verily accepts
नवानि  = new sets
देही  = the embodied.

This Atman is invisible, inconceivable, unchangeable. Therefore knowing this, there is no point in lamenting or worrying.

अव्यक्तोऽयमचिन्त्योऽयमविकार्योऽयमुच्यते ।
तस्मादेवं विदित्वैनं नानुशोचितुमर्हसि ॥ २-२५॥

avyakto.ayamachintyo.ayamavikAryo.ayamuchyate .
tasmAdeva.n viditvaina.n nAnushochitumarhasi .. 2\-25..

अव्यक्तः  = invisible
अयं  = this soul
अचिन्त्यः  = inconceivable
अयं  = this soul
अविकार्यः  = unchangeable
अयं  = this soul
उच्यते  = is said
तस्मात्  = therefore
एवं  = like this
विदित्वा  = knowing it well
एनं  = this soul
न  = do not
अनुशोचितुं  = to lament
अर्हसि  = you deserve.

7. Bhagavan’s State

In Chapter 2, as soon as Lord Krishna finishes his convincing lesson about Gnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and why Arjuna should fight (from many different perspectives and reasons), Arjuna’s first quetion is “How does a Sthitha Prajna (self-realized person) live?”.

The first expression that comes to mind is 2.55: आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्टः (AtmanyevAtmanA tuShTaH) which means one who in their pure soul are satisfied and happy with their own selves.

Further, we have 3.17 which give a triad of qualities: AtmaratiH, AtmatR^iptaH, Atmani eva santuShTaH.

यस्त्वात्मरतिरेव स्यादात्मतृप्तश्च मानवः ।
आत्मन्येव च सन्तुष्टस्तस्य कार्यं न विद्यते ॥ ३-१७॥

yastvAtmaratireva syAdAtmatR^iptashcha mAnavaH .
Atmanyeva cha santuShTastasya kAryaM na vidyate .. 3\-17..

यः  = one who
तु  = but
आत्मरतिः  = taking pleasure in the self
एव  = certainly
स्यात्  = remains
आत्मतृप्तः  = self-illuminated
च  = and
मानवः  = a man
आत्मनि  = in himself
एव  = only
च  = and
सन्तुष्टः  = perfectly satiated
तस्य  = his
कार्यं  = duty
न  = does not
विद्यते  = exist.

And yet again in Chapter 5.24, we have a new triad of qualities: antarsukhaH, antarArAmaH, antarjyotiH.

योऽन्तःसुखोऽन्तरारामस्तथान्तर्ज्योतिरेव यः ।
स योगी ब्रह्मनिर्वाणं ब्रह्मभूतोऽधिगच्छति ॥ ५-२४॥

yo.antaHsukho.antarArAmastathAntarjyotireva yaH .
sa yogI brahmanirvANaM brahmabhUto.adhigachChati .. 5\-24..

यः  = one who
अन्तर्सुखः  = happy from within
अन्तरारामः  = actively enjoying within
तथा  = as well as
अन्तर्ज्योतिः  = aiming within
एव  = certainly
यः  = anyone
सः  = he
योगी  = a mystic
ब्रह्मनिर्वाणं  = liberation in the Supreme
ब्रह्मभूतः  = being self-realized
अधिगच्छति  = attains.

8. Who Am I Vichaaram

While the core of the teachings were beautifully explained by the dialogues, I was reminded of couple of highlights of this. As we see in the last section (Bhagavan’s state), how does one get to that state of peace?

You follow the incessant questioning Who am I to yourself. Whatever answer you get, you could dismiss it. What remains? Is there an answer? Are there different answers? What is THE answer?

This is best approached with a Vedantic background and a teacher to guide.

As the Bhagavad Gita teaches, any problem (samsara, banda) is due to ignorance. Ignorance of our real true nature. The lack of the correct answer to Who am I. Ignorance can be solved only by Knowledge. This is Gnana Yoga. But it requires a prepared focussed mind ready to reflect on the teachings. Hence the way to focus and tune the mind is via Upasana Yoga. But the mind to be tuned and focussed first needs to be calm equanimous mind which can be done via Karma Yoga.

So in short, the stack pops up in this way.

  1. Apply Karma Yoga which consists of the Right actions done with the Right attitude
    • Right action: the ones that are moral and that benefit as many people as possible
    • Right attitude consits of doing everything as an offering to the Lord (Eswara Arpana Buddhi) and accepting the fruits as a gift from the Lord (Eswara Prasadha Buddhi).
  2. Apply Upasana Yoga to focus and tune the mind
    • This is the Dhyanam part. This can start with Ishta Devata (favorite deity), which is Eka Rupa Iswara (of a single form) but to evolve to Vishva Rupa Iswara where one learns to see everything as God.
  3. Apply Gnana Yoga to get the knowledge
    • This takes you through the three steps:
    • Shravanam : Learning from a teacher consistently and for a length of time
    • Mananam : Reflecting on the teachings and clearing the doubts of the Intellect
    • Nidhidhyasanam : Clearing the obstacles that arises in the Mind
  4. Be in Gnana Nishta to continue to benefit from the knowledge
    • Continued practice of Nidhidhyasanam
  5. Enjoy the Gnana Phalam of being the Shithaprajna as described in the previous section (or in the last section).

First, you are your own best friend and your own worst enemy. How so? If your mind is under control, then it is your friend. If not, then it becomes your enemy. You can lift yourself only by your own self. This is a powerful teaching that puts you in charge and your effort as the factor. It also tells one not to ever debase themselves as it will only become a self-reinforcing belief.

उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् ।
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः ॥ ६-५॥

uddharedAtmanAtmAnaM nAtmAnamavasAdayet.h .
Atmaiva hyAtmano bandhurAtmaiva ripurAtmanaH .. 6\-5..

उद्धरेत्  = one must deliver
आत्मना  = by the mind
आत्मानं  = the conditioned soul
न  = never
आत्मानं  = the conditioned soul
अवसादयेत्  = put into degradation
आत्मा  = mind
एव  = certainly
हि  = indeed
आत्मनः  = of the conditioned soul
बन्धुः  = friend
आत्मा  = mind
एव  = certainly
रिपुः  = enemy
आत्मनः  = of the conditioned soul.

Given that we have taken the initiative and started our efforts in earnest, the next part is to realize that we need the grace of the lord too. This is a wonderful shloka from 9.18 which puts the Lord as the Goal, the path, the creator, the sustainer, the best friend, the abode / resting place, the refuge and establishes the transcendence and immanence of the Lord.

This is akin to Who am I method of Bhagavan where it is the method, it is the path, it is the goal, it can help in various stages at various levels and the ultimate truth. It takes a Bhagavan to take such a leap of imagination / knowledge to formulate such a method that can be understood and attempted at by everyone. As they progress along the path, they learn the depth and nuances of the path and gather knowledge as needed, all along purifying and tuning their mind.

गतिर्भर्ता प्रभुः साक्षी निवासः शरणं सुहृत् ।
प्रभवः प्रलयः स्थानं निधानं बीजमव्ययम् ॥ ९-१८॥

gatirbhartA prabhuH sAkShI nivAsaH sharaNa.n suhR^it.h .
prabhavaH pralayaH sthAnaM nidhAnaM bIjamavyayam.h .. 9\-18..

गतिः  = goal
भर्ता  = sustainer
प्रभुः  = Lord
सक्षी  = witness
निवासः  = abode
शरणं  = refuge
सुहृत्  = most intimate friend
प्रभवः  = creation
प्रलयः  = dissolution
स्थानं  = ground
निधानं  = resting place
बीजं  = seed
अव्ययं  = imperishable.

We will continue this teaching in the sections coming up too.

9. Mind is difficult to control

The scenes where multiple devotees confess the difficulty of focussing the mind and concentrating.

In Chapter 4, Arjuna would ask Lord Krishna that even though he understands the teachings to keep the mind in an equanimous state, it is very difficult to focus and control the mind and he the great warrior confesses that to control the mind is as difficult as controlling the wind.

You could also see a variety of devotees featured.

There are some who want the guru/lord as the means but want something else as the goal. Then there are some who have other things as means and elevate the lord as the goal. And then there are those who unwaveringly dedicate themselves to the path of realization. We get four classifications in 7.16.

चतुर्विधा भजन्ते मां जनाः सुकृतिनोऽर्जुन ।
आर्तो जिज्ञासुरर्थार्थी ज्ञानी च भरतर्षभ ॥ ७-१६॥

chaturvidhA bhajante mA.n janAH sukR^itino.arjuna .
Arto jiGYAsurarthArthI GYAnI cha bharatarShabha .. 7\-16..

चतुर्विधाः  = four kinds of
भजन्ते  = render services
मां  = unto Me
जनाः  = persons
सुकृतिनः  = those who are pious
अर्जुन  = O Arjuna
आर्तः  = the distressed
जिज्ञासुः  = the inquisitive
अर्थार्थी  = one who desires material gain
ज्ञानी  = one who knows things as they are
च  = also
भरतर्षभ  = O great one amongst the descendants of Bharata.

Just like a flame that is safely guarded from the wind can shine without flickering, likewise the mind has to be kept under control.

यथा दीपो निवातस्थो नेङ्गते सोपमा स्मृता ।
योगिनो यतचित्तस्य युञ्जतो योगमात्मनः ॥ ६-१९॥

yathA dIpo nivAtastho ne~Ngate sopamA smR^itA .
yogino yatachittasya yu~njato yogamAtmanaH .. 6\-19..

यथा  = as
दीपः  = a lamp
निवातस्थः  = in a place without wind
न  = does not
इङ्गते  = waver
सा  = this
उपमा  = comparison
स्मृता  = is considered
योगिनः  = of the yogi
यतचित्तस्य  = whose mind is controlled
युञ्जतः  = constantly engaged
योगं  = in meditation
आत्मनः  = on transcendence.

This can be done only gradually. The meditation that is prescribed in Chapter 6 is Nidhidhyasanam (also called Vedantic Meditation). This can be thought of as the parallel to the Who am I meditation. One should have the knowledge and the conviction to practise diligently.

शनैः शनैरुपरमेद् बुद्ध्या धृतिगृहीतया ।
आत्मसंस्थं मनः कृत्वा न किञ्चिदपि चिन्तयेत् ॥ ६-२५॥

shanaiH shanairuparamed.h bud.hdhyA dhR^itigR^ihItayA .
Atmasa.nsthaM manaH kR^itvA na ki~nchidapi chintayet.h .. 6\-25..

शनैः  = gradually
शनैः  = step by step
उपरमेत्  = one should hold back
बुद्ध्या  = by intelligence
धृतिगृहीतया  = carried by conviction
आत्मसंस्थं  = placed in transcendence
मनः  = mind
कृत्वा  = making
न  = not
किञ्चित्  = anything else
अपि  = even
चिन्तयेत्  = should think of.

Arjuna’s the great warrior and the fabled archer confesses that he find controlling the mind as difficult as controlling the wind.

चञ्चलं हि मनः कृष्ण प्रमाथि बलवद् दृढम् ।
तस्याहं निग्रहं मन्ये वायोरिव सुदुष्करम् ॥ ६-३४॥

cha~nchalaM hi manaH kR^iShNa pramAthi balavad.h dR^iDham.h .
tasyAhaM nigrahaM manye vAyoriva suduShkaram.h .. 6\-34..

चञ्चलं  = flickering
हि  = certainly
मनः  = mind
कृष्ण  = O KRiShNa
प्रमाथि  = agitating
बलवत्  = strong
दृढं  = obstinate
तस्य  = its
अहं  = I
निग्रहं  = subduing
मन्ये  = think
वायोः  = of the wind
इव  = like
सुदुष्करं  = difficult.

Lord Krishna being a good and compassionate teacher immediately agrees and assures that it is indeed the case and the only way to overcome is by constant practice and by nurturing a sense of detachment to other distracting things.

असंशयं महाबाहो मनो दुर्निग्रहं चलम् ।
अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण च गृह्यते ॥ ६-३५॥

asa.nshayaM mahAbAho mano durnigraha.n chalam.h .
abhyAsena tu kaunteya vairAgyeNa cha gR^ihyate .. 6\-35..

श्रीभगवानुवाच  = the Personality of Godhead said
असंशयं  = undoubtedly
महाबाहो  = O mighty-armed one
मनः  = the mind
दुर्निग्रहं  = difficult to curb
चलं  = flickering
अभ्यासेन  = by practice
तु  = but
कौन्तेय  = O son of Kunti
वैराग्येण  = by detachment
च  = also
गृह्यते  = can be so controlled.

10. Seek a teacher

There are very few (think one in millions) who do this all on their own. That is why Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi is also in a way Advaitam (one who is without a second).

Even such masters take the Lord as the Guru.

From Akshara Mana Maalai composition, we have these beautiful lines.

Verse 36:

சொல்லாது சொலி நீ சொல் அற நில் என்று
சும்மா இருந்தாய் அருணாசலா (அ)

Chollathu cholli nee, chollara nillendru,
Chumma yirundhay, Arunachala 36

Verse 42:

தத்துவம் தெரியாது அத்தனை உற்றாய்
தத்துவம் இது என் அருணாசலா (அ)

Thattuvam theriya thathanai yuthay,
Thathuvam ithu ven, Arunachala 42

Verse 43:

தானே தானே தத்துவம் இதனைத்
தானே காட்டுவாய் அருணாசலா (அ)

Thane thane thathuvam idanai,
Thane kattuvai Arunachala 43

Note in Manickavachakar’s Thiruvachakam 1, Siva Puranam where he humbly prostrates that it is through the Lord’s grace that he even got the inclination to pray to the lord.

சிவன் அவன் என் சிந்தையுள் நின்ற அதனால்
அவன் அருளாலே அவன் தாள் வணங்கி

Or the other famous Saint Arunagirinathar also from Thiruvannamalai in Kandhar Anubhoothi establishing the exact same dedication குருவாய் வருவாய், அருள்வாய் குகனே.

Verse 51:

உருவாய் அருவாய், உளதாய் இலதாய்
மருவாய் மலராய், மணியாய் ஒளியாய்க்
கருவாய் உயிராய்க், கதியாய் விதியாய்க்
குருவாய் வருவாய், அருள்வாய் குகனே.

uruvAi aruvAi uLadhAi iladhAi
maruvAi malarAi maNiyAi oLiyAi
karuvAi uyirAi gathiyAi vidhiyAi
guruvAi varuvAi aruLvAi guganE.

Not so concidentally (if you are on the Advaita path), in the same Kandhar Anubhoothi, the upadesam from Lord Muruga to Arunagiri is for him to be bereft of ego & thoughts: சும்மா இரு, சொல் அற.

Verse 12:

செம்மான் மகளைத் திருடும் திருடன்
பெம்மான் முருகன், பிறவான், இறவான்
சும்மா இரு, சொல் அற என்றலுமே
அம்மா பொருள் ஒன்றும் அறிந்திலனே.

semmAn magaLaith thirudum thirudan
pemmAn murugan piRavAn iRavAn
summA iru sollaRa endRalumE
ammA poruL ondRum aRindhilanE.

Maharishi’s unique teaching style, method, path, detail and goal all so beautifully is merged and encapsulated in one phrase “Who am I?”.

11. Bhagavan’s life and state of being

In the Bhagavad Gita, there are three sections where Lord Krishna describes the state of a self-realized person.

  1. In chapter 2, it is a SthithaPrajna (2.55 to 2.72) : One who is a Self-realized person.
  2. In chapter 12, it is a ParaaBhaktha (12.13 to 12.19) : One who is the highest devotee.
  3. In chapter 14, it is a Gunaathithaa (14.22 to 14.27) : One who is beyond the Three Gunas.

Here I just take a quick sample from Chapter 2.

The who does not look externally for happiness and are completely satisfied in their own Atman / self-realized knowledge.

प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् ।
आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्टः स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते ॥ २-५५॥

prajahAti yadA kAmAnsarvAnpArtha manogatAn.h .
AtmanyevAtmanA tuShTaH sthitapraGYastadochyate .. 2\-55..

श्रीभगवानुवाच  = the Supreme Personality of Godhead said
प्रजहाति  = gives up
यदा  = when
कामान्  = desires for sense gratification
सर्वान्  = of all varieties
पार्थ  = O son of Pritha
मनोगतान्  = of mental concoction
आत्मानि  = in the pure state of the soul
एव  = certainly
आत्मना  = by the purified mind
तुष्टः  = satisfied
स्थितप्रज्ञः  = transcendentally situated
तदा  = at that time
उच्यते  = is said.

The one who is neither perturbed by happiness nor by sorrow and the one who has transcended Attachment, Fear and Anger. Attachment is caused due to a memory from the past, fear is due to a perceived event in the future and anger is a lack of control of the mind in the present. Thus Attachment, Anger and Fear constitute how a person could get affected in three states of time (past, present and future).

दुःखेष्वनुद्विग्नमनाः सुखेषु विगतस्पृहः ।
वीतरागभयक्रोधः स्थितधीर्मुनिरुच्यते ॥ २-५६॥

duHkheShvanudvignamanAH sukheShu vigataspR^ihaH .
vItarAgabhayakrodhaH sthitadhIrmuniruchyate .. 2\-56..

दुःखेषु  = in the threefold miseries
अनुद्विग्नमनाः  = without being agitated in mind
सुखेषु  = in happiness
विगतस्पृहः  = without being interested
वीत  = free from
राग  = attachment
भय  = fear
क्रोधः  = and anger
स्थितधीः  = whose mind is steady
मुनिः  = a sage
उच्यते  = is called.

The one who is equanimous to any type of situation.

यः सर्वत्रानभिस्नेहस्तत्तत्प्राप्य शुभाशुभम् ।
नाभिनन्दति न द्वेष्टि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ॥ २-५७॥

yaH sarvatrAnabhisnehastattatprApya shubhAshubham.h .
nAbhinandati na dveShTi tasya praGYA pratiShThitA .. 2\-57..

यः  = one who
सर्वत्र  = everywhere
अनभिस्नेहः  = without affection
तत्  = that
तत्  = that
प्राप्य  = achieving
शुभ  = good
अशुभं  = evil
न  = never
अभिनन्दती  = praises
न  = never
द्वेष्टि  = envies
तस्य  = his
प्रज्ञा  = perfect knowledge
प्रतिष्ठिता  = fixed.

The one who is not lured by the sense objects / pleasures.

यदा संहरते चायं कूर्मोऽङ्गानीव सर्वशः ।
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ॥ २-५८॥

yadA sa.nharate chAyaM kUrmo.a~NgAnIva sarvashaH .
indriyANIndriyArthebhyastasya praGYA pratiShThitA .. 2\-58..

यदा  = when
संहरते  = winds up
च  = also
अयं  = he
कूर्मः  = tortoise
अङ्गानि  = limbs
इव  = like
सर्वशः  = altogether
इन्द्रियाणि  = senses
इन्द्रियार्थेभ्यः  = from the sense objects
तस्य  = his
प्रज्ञा  = consciousness
प्रतिष्ठिता  = fixed.

The above four if you take it in the reverse order (from 2.58 to 2.55), goes from the gross to the subtle - sense organs & objects, mind, intellect, atman.

Such a person is always rooted in the true knowledge of Atman or as Bhagavan would call it “What’s the source of Who am I?”.

तानि सर्वाणि संयम्य युक्त आसीत मत्परः ।
वशे हि यस्येन्द्रियाणि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ॥ २-६१॥

tAni sarvANi sa.nyamya yukta AsIta matparaH .
vashe hi yasyendriyANi tasya praGYA pratiShThitA .. 2\-61..

तानि  = those senses
सर्वाणि  = all
संयम्य  = keeping under control
युक्तः  = engaged
आसीत  = should be situated
मत्परः  = in relationship with Me
वशे  = in full subjugation
हि  = certainly
यस्य  = one whose
इन्द्रियाणि  = senses
तस्य  = his
प्रज्ञा  = consciousness
प्रतिष्ठिता  = fixed.

For such a self-realized person their perspective and understanding is do different that it is a night and day difference as compared to an unrealized person.

या निशा सर्वभूतानां तस्यां जागर्ति संयमी ।
यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि सा निशा पश्यतो मुनेः ॥ २-६९॥

yA nishA sarvabhUtAnAM tasyA.n jAgarti sa.nyamI .
yasyA.n jAgrati bhUtAni sA nishA pashyato muneH .. 2\-69..

या  = what
निशा  = is night
सर्व  = all
भूतानां  = of living entities
तस्यां  = in that
जागर्ति  = is wakeful
संयमी  = the self-controlled
यस्यां  = in which
जाग्रति  = are awake
भूतानि  = all beings
सा  = that is
निशा  = night
पश्यतः  = for the introspective
मुनेः  = sage.

Such a person while living in the world does not let any interactions, people, objects, events affect them just as the Ocean is not affected by rivers entering it.

        समुद्रमापः प्रविशन्ति यद्वत् ।
तद्वत्कामा यं प्रविशन्ति सर्वे
        स शान्तिमाप्नोति न कामकामी ॥ २-७०॥

        samudramApaH pravishanti yadvat.h .
tadvatkAmA yaM pravishanti sarve
        sa shAntimApnoti na kAmakAmI .. 2\-70..

आपुर्यमाणं  = always being filled
अचलप्रतिष्ठं  = steadily situated
समुद्रं  = the ocean
आपः  = waters
प्रविशन्ति  = enter
यद्वत्  = as
तद्वत्  = so
कामाः  = desires
यं  = unto whom
प्रविशन्ति  = enter
सर्वे  = all
सः  = that person
शान्तिं  = peace
आप्नोति  = achieves
न  = not
कामकामी  = one who desires to fulfill desires.

The Journey

This started just like any of my other writings where I thought I would list 10 or so points and would be done in under an hour. Five days later, I am still writing it. What can I say : it is HE who is instigating me to write, making me see connections that he wants me to see and then choosing the verses and words for me. I am just the instrument (BG 11.33 : निमित्तमात्रं भव). As for me, it is the journey. Who am I to question this.

This is but a tiny sample from the Gita. The idiot that I am, I did not do justice and refer properly to Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi’s own selected 42 verses from the Gita. Some of the verses that I have cited above occur in that too. Although the difference being, the above are what I viewed / perceived from the scenes in the play whereas Bhagavan’s 42 verses are for a sincere seeker to follow the teaching to its logical conclusion (self-realization).

Realizing that I had to quote a few verses, I wanted to take this opportunity to learn the shlokas more thoroughly, internalize them and likewise provide a similar experience for a reader too. Finding the Sanskrit / Devanagri script of the verses, finding the corresponding transliteration in ITX format and then finding the word by word meaning proved to be a challenge. Thankfully, has good resources but in disparate pages where all the 700 verses are provided as one large bundle. Thankfully I deal with text processing a lot and hence wrote a few scripts to collect them, collate them and then split them into 18 chapters - so I could have all the four versions (sanskrit script, ITX English script, sanskrit word meanings and English word meanings) for each chapter in one file. That’s some silly overindulgence on my part but with the hope that the future BG essays would make it worth the effort and help my friends too.

Bhagavan Ramana Mahrishi and Bhagavad Gita are majestic oceans. Sanskrit, Tamil and English are such powerful languages that each one could take a full life time to get good at. Advaita Vedanta is a Philosophy par excellence bar none. The Venn intersection of these gargantuans does intimidate me. Thankfully I did not realize the complexity of the task when I started it - otherwise I would not have. But here I am, so pardon any mistakes. Do guide me and point me to sources, links, lectures, docs that would help me understand better. If there are any corrections, please let me know, happy to fix them. Hope you got some idea or some better idea of these topics (and if you already knew, reveled in it), the magnificient teachings of Bhagavan’s Who am I and Bhagavan’s Gita.

Om Tat Sat.


I owe all my Vedanta knowledge to the teachings and blessings of Swami Paramarthananda. Om Sri Gurubhyo Namaha.

I learnt a lot about Bhagavad Gita from Prof. VK’s “Thus Spake Krishna” book.

I cannot thank enough fellow mumukshus who have accompany me, guide me and encouraged me all along. These “satsangs” truly reflect Bhaja Govindam Verse 9 “Satsangatve nissangatvam” of Adi Shankaracharya.

Bhagavad Gita

Akshara Mana Malai

Thiruvachagam / Sivapuranam

Kandhar Anubhoothi